While most of the top seeds have done well throughout the opening week at the U.S. Open, Saturday's early matchups saw many elite players starting to struggle.
On the women's side, No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova had a second-set bagel while losing to unseeded Alison Riske. This was better than No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, who only won one game in a straight-set loss to No. 21 Simona Halep.
Victoria Azarenka and David Ferrer survived upsets, but they each struggled while dropping sets against inferior competition. These matches continue to prove that anything can happen in the early round of the major tournament.
Here is a full look at the early results from Day 6 at Flushing Meadows, courtesy of USOpen.org.
Rafael Nadal Cruises to Victory
Ivan Dodig showed people that it will take a very strong performance to beat Rafael Nadal in this tournament. Despite a couple of solid rounds to reach this point, the Croatian just did not have an upset in him.
Nadal was far from perfect, but he was rarely in trouble in this third-round matchup and easily earned a straight-set victory. He was excellent all over the court, including an impressive 14-of-17 mark at the net.
It is also tough to defend against shots like this:
The 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win gives Nadal a 56-3 record for the season, including a ridiculous 18-0 mark on hard courts. The idea that he can only succeed on clay is a thing of the past.
While the No. 2 seed is certain to be challenged in the upcoming rounds, he will remain the favorite to win the tournament until someone can knock him out.
Petra Kvitova Goes Down
While Sara Errani was the first top seed to go down, Kvitova was not too far behind, as the No. 7 seed was eliminated in embarrassing fashion.
The U.S. Open Twitter account provided a look at the final point:
Riske was impressive throughout the match, winning 85 percent of her points on first serves as well as 54 percent of return points. She did not face a single break point in the biggest win to date in her career.
However, the health of Kvitova played a big role in this match, and it remains a concern going forward. Matt Cronin of TennisReporter.net stated that the player was playing through a virus:
At one point, a trainer was on court checking Kvitova's blood pressure:
There is little doubt that this contributed to the loss, although Riske should still be proud of reaching the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
David Ferrer Survives Tough Match
Although David Ferrer defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in four sets, the match was much closer than the scoreboard indicated.
The No. 4 seed struggled with his serve throughout the day, especially when he missed on the first serve. Ferrer only won 20 of 41 points on his second serve, and these issues led to him being broken six times.
Many still thought he would continue to cruise after winning the first two sets, including Joe Fleming of USA Today:
However, the Spanish player dropped the third set and needed a long time to close things out in the fourth.
While Ferrer was able to survive with the win, he will need to perform much better in the upcoming rounds if he wants to advance.
Victoria Azarenka Earns Come-From-Behind Win
Things certainly did not go according to plan early on for No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka. The first set went to a tie break, which was won by Alize Cornet:
In that first set, the favorite hurt herself with five double faults and 20 unforced errors.
Fortunately, Azarenka found a way to turn things around in the second set with strong rallies, like the one seen here:
Of course, she was not making too many friends with officials, according to Jane McManus of ESPN New York:
Still, the talented player won the last two sets to earn a spot in the fourth round, where she will face Ana Ivanovic.
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